B1 — 12. Let’s Go!

Rachel watched Carter, and his men leave with a passive expression; they began muttering amongst themselves the moment they left the building.  Henry’s voice was heated. “I can’t believe we’re letting all that hard planning go to waste.”

“Seriously,” Carter’s tone was hard.  “That’s what you’re concerned about, Henry.  She knew everything, everything, Henry, and I can’t believe I had to learn about your morphine addiction from a Mythickin.”

“I don’t have…”

“Don’t deny it,” he slapped Henry’s chest with disgust.  “Freaking right where she said it was, and you used a doctor’s credentials to get it.”

“Hey—I’ll get help after all this mess is over, okay…”

Carter seethed through his teeth as Carlos asked, “Hey, you think she’ll rat us out?”

Cameron walked over with a few of his men, expressions serious; she held up a finger, letting them know she was listening to them.

“I wouldn’t put it past her,” Carter muttered.  “She’s a real issue—she has some kind of ability to track us … how did that Mythickin know everything?  She’s a rabbit, so she might have good hearing, but to hear even Sangita; we were at least a mile away from the hospital.  If she can hear people from that distance … we’re going to have to rely on text communication.”

“Tck, there’s evidence with that,” Ronny grumbled; Rachel huffed at his statement.  If they’re worried about evidence, it’s a sign they shouldn’t be doing it.

“We don’t have a choice.  If she has that good of hearing … who knows how accurate it is.  She wasn’t joking about always being prepared—probably listening to us right now.  If she can hear people from a mile away … I don’t see how we can take out Scarlet with her nearby.  Maybe with a sniper, but who knows with her blood protection. If we can’t do it with her knocked out, then it runs the risk of her surviving—a shotgun from point blank didn’t do it … it really does seem impossible unless we use C4 or something.  We’ll have to do more research, but with the rabbit around … I’ll do some thinking. Let’s retreat for now and keep everything through text.”

He pulled out a piece of paper.  “We need to get away from the hospital as quickly as possible.”  He sent each of his men to different locations, pointing routes on the map so she wouldn’t know their exact routes.  “We’ll all meet here.”

Rachel sighed as she turned to Cameron.  “Thanks for waiting. I thought I was pretty clear, but it doesn’t sound like they’re going to give up.  I’ll give you the names of everyone involved; they suspect I can hear them and are retreating for now, but they’re underestimating how far I can hear them.  Still, they’re going to move pretty far away and come up with another plan.”

Cameron nodded.  “Alright, they seemed pretty rattled by whatever you said.”

“I knew their plan and exposed everything.  I told them their options were limited and to give up on trying to get revenge, but it looks like it’s consuming him.  His tone didn’t sound defeated, just frustrated this plan didn’t work and about me getting involved.”

The Green Berets’ faces grew cold.  “What was their plan?”

“Smoke bombs to cause panic; they’re set up around the area.  You’d prioritize evacuating civilians with the possibility of poisonous gas; they’d then use elephant tranquilizers to try and drug Scarlet, posing as little danger to her as possible to keep her blood from attacking.  After she was out, they were going to take her to a warehouse and try different means of cutting her into pieces to kill her. They think they’re heroes, stopping another tragedy from happening.”

Roger swore in disgust.  “They were going to chop a teenage girl into pieces—they’re sociopaths.”

Rachel nodded.  “I think a few of them are, but the majority are just brainwashed into thinking Scarlet’s a real-life monster that will destroy humanity.”

Cameron reported the incident, giving Mateo the names Rachel had gathered.  Once finished, Mateo huffed in disgust. “Traitors, the lot of them; abandoning their post, defying orders, conspiracy to commit murder, plots to terrorize the public and disrupt order.  We’ll see what confessions we can get from the conspirators. Thanks, Rachel, your ears really are something. If we can nip this in the bud, we could stop a dangerous anti-Mythickin group from forming before it gets rolling—them mentioning C4, that’s concerning.”

Taking a deep breath, Rachel frowned.  “I did my best to give them a chance to back out.  I’m sure a few of them will abandon Carter if pushed.  They have the National Guard radios; if you give them an ultimatum over it, then I’m sure a few will turn themselves in.  That’ll back Carter into a corner and let him know there’s no going back. I just feel bad for his family; from what I heard earlier, it sounded like his marriage isn’t doing great—maybe he’s projecting a bit of that onto Scarlet with his brother’s death.”

“We’ll get to the bottom of it,” Mateo stated.  “Were you able to tell anything about the direction they’re heading?”

“They’re heading north right now, but from how he was holding the map—I’m not positive, but he could be planning to cut east.  They’re all split up now,” Rachel handed the earpiece back to Roger. “I’d rather not have anything else to do with that man; thanks for handling it and still treating us as U.S. citizens.”

Cameron huffed.  “Well, you are.”

Smiling at them, she shook their hands.  “Thanks for serving. You really are heroes.”

She returned to Scarlet and Julia’s side as Mateo issued more orders regarding Carter and his group; he began organizing a small party to track them while giving the ultimatum over the radio.  Julia seemed in awe. “Scarlet translated what was going on—you’re so cool! I can’t believe you just marched right up to them and called them out, and then the chair thing—I couldn’t see it, but their faces!”

Scarlet looked down before mumbling.  “Thank you for having my back—I just keep causing trouble, and what Carter asked, you didn’t answer it—why did you help me?”

Rachel scratched her left ear, looking at Maria as they discussed poses.  That’s a good question.  I think of her as a goal to reach, but maybe there is a little something more to it.  Logically, Scarlet can take care of herself, but I still decided to interfere. It wasn’t like I owed Carter anything either.  What’s the connection? I felt like it was important to act on the information I had … important, why was that important? The only thing that was important to me was my parents’ love and acknowledgment … that, and Muay Thai.  Why did I interfere then? Did I feel pity for Carter and his group? Maybe I’m overthinking it… Smiling, Rachel shook her head.  “Honestly, I don’t know how to answer that right now.”

“Maybe you’re becoming friends!”  Julia said with a bright smile. “Friends help each other out.”

“Friends?”  Rachel muttered.  I’ve never really been interested in friends; I was always too focused on family and releasing tension, focusing on training or school, that was my life.

Rachel chuckled softly.  “Maybe—I’ve never had friends.  I don’t know how to make them or even how friendship works.  I was always too busy doing other things.”

Rubbing her shoulder, Scarlet looked away.  “I grew pretty distant from all my friends after high school … I mostly talked with people I met on Discord or drawing sites.  I guess I became pretty anti-social.” Smiling, she looked up into Rachel’s eyes. “I’d like to be friends—if that’s alright; just having another Mythickin around has been nice.  It just feels nice to not be so alone; that I’m not the only one that’s changed so much.”

“Sure,” Rachel shrugged.  “I don’t see why not…”

“Hey, chicas!”  Maria called out.  “What are you two doing wasting time?  Let’s get this done!” Smiling, they both joined her.  The shoot didn’t last very long; they took several photos separately and then a few together before letting them go.  They walked to the relief area with their Green Beret escort; leaving the camera crew to clean up.

Rachel Photo Shoot

“That wasn’t so bad,” Scarlet looked down to study a few of the polaroids.

Maria huffed.  “Easy money.”

“That reminds me,” Rachel scanned through sounds.  “I can’t hear any of your gang around, Maria.”

She hummed.  “They went to take care of the elderly; there are several that need help.  I was able to heal their weak bodies, but the old folks in the neighborhood … son durísimos y muy trabajadores para su edad.”  She chuckled. “They’ll curse your ears red if you do something they can do themselves.”

“So,” Rachel’s brow furrowed.  “You actually take care of everyone in your neighborhood?”

“Of course,” Maria sniffed.  “They took care of me and my brother growing up.  I’m not alone, we got a tight group and connections—we have to be with all the gangs; Marcus is a high ranking Untouchable, the Miami Boys criminal organization.  The Gambino family has been a problem lately too; they’re trying to take cuts from any hustling done by local crews. We have to keep our heads down with so many gangs in Miami.”

“Are there really that many?”  Rachel questioned.

“Humph,” Maria scoffed.  “A ton—you have MS-13, Savage City Gangsters, NHP Bloods, Shower Posse, TNS, West Side Boys, and Young Latin Organization to name the big ones. ”

“They’re all real gangs too?  Not just wannabe gangsters?”

Maria lifted an eyebrow.  “You seriously haven’t heard of them?  Chicas ignorantes,” she muttered. “You think sex-trafficking, drugs, murder, extortion, money laundering, and arms trafficking are small things?”

Scarlet frowned.  “I remember hearing bits and pieces like that while in school, but I thought they were just talk.”

“The world is pretty until you peel back the layers,” Julia said with a sad sigh.  “Let’s get off this depressing discussion though! What kind of clothes do you want, Scarlet?”

“Hmm?  Oh, umm, honestly, I’m okay with these clothes.”

“You seriously like these things?”  Maria asked with a raised eyebrow.

A light blush touched Scarlet’s pale cheeks.  “Yeah, kind of. I mean—I was a little scared with how my features changed; it’s like looking at a stranger in the mirror, but I think I look cute in a skirt.”

“Of course you do!”  Julia ran ahead and took a quick picture of her.  “That shy look is just adorable!” Maria shrugged as Scarlet smiled a little, looking at the floor.

Rachel smiled as she stared down at Scarlet.  “I think you look cute, but me, I’m more comfortable in gym clothes.”

“But you look so stunning in a sailor uniform!”  Julia moaned.

“Just not me,” Rachel chuckled.

They made it to the relief area; Maria and Rachel picking out a new set of identical black sportswear.  Julia looked like she didn’t approve. “Seriously, those are the same clothes you were wearing before.”

“Comfort is key,” Rachel replied.  “You really should get some comfortable clothes, Scarlet.”

She shook her head with a light chuckle.  “To be honest, I feel perfectly comfortable like this—I’ll grab a sports set though, why not.”

They took all of their outfits to the staff break room since it was closer, leaving Julia with their escort outside.  Rachel and Maria changed into their clothes quickly, Scarlet moved to the window to look out into the night.

Finishing, Maria hummed as she examined Scarlet.  “You want to fight a gang like that?”

“I don’t see how it would be different dressed in sports clothes,” she said brightly.

Maria nodded.  “Humph, not a bad retort.  To each their own.”

“Hmm,” Rachel smirked as she finished flipping her hair out of the tank.  “You sure it’s not just Julia’s blood that’s influencing you?”

Scarlet’s eyes widened.  “You know—that could actually be true.  I can’t believe I didn’t think of that … I really need to be careful whose blood I drink.”

“Wouldn’t want to drink an exhibitionist’s blood, right?”

Scarlet swallowed reflexively.  “That is definitely not me! Please slap me if that ever happens … lock me up in a basement.  Can I sign a consent form? Seriously.”

“We’ll have to worry about that if we have rights at all; who knows how The Oscillation will change the country, but I think we first should worry about Maria’s brother.”

“Finally!”  Maria said, pounding her fist.  “What’s the plan then?”

Cracking her neck, Rachel shook herself out.  “We first need to see how we can get away from the hospital without anyone knowing.  If Scarlet can’t transport all of us then we’ll have to jump out the window; I’d rather disappear without leaving any kind of clue how.”

Scarlet took a deep breath.  “No pressure.” Walking up to them, she shifted a little.  “Okay, I feel awkward just asking this, but we need to be really close to each other if it’s going to work—I know we all don’t know each other that well yet…”

Maria huffed, moving within Scarlet’s personal space before she could finish.  “Whatever it takes to save my brother.”

Rachel nodded without hesitation.  “I said I’m willing to be friends. I don’t know what all that entails, but I guess getting over discomfort is a part of that.”  She stepped in close to Scarlet.

“Okay,” Scarlet breathed.  Her eyes changed as she looked through the window, across the street at another building.  Rachel’s skin tingled as shadows rose around them. She didn’t feel like she moved at all as the shadows lifted and their environment changed.

She looked around at a teen’s bedroom; there were no windows in the room.  “Where are we—from the sound, two blocks away?”

Moving back, Scarlet looked left.  “Yup, two blocks away. There were a lot of people in all the houses around us; this was the only empty one I could see—a lot of people are huddling around the hospital.”

“Looks like it worked,” Maria said with a broad grin.  “Interesting, shadow teleporting. Is that the furthest you can go?”

Scarlet sat on the twin-sized bed.  “No, but it takes more blood to teleport further.  I wasn’t sure how much energy I need to conserve since I wasn’t able to drink all that much.”

“Right,” Rachel said, sitting on the desk chair.  “We first need to head to a medical sanitation facility on the way to Miami Beach.  They send expired blood bags there.”

“Expired?”  Scarlet muttered with a bit of disgust.  “Normal blood packs that aren’t expired taste pretty bland.  Julia’s was pretty freshly drawn, so it was delicious.”

Rachel shrugged.  “Best I could come up with.  The facility is basically abandoned with the emergency going on; you could drink as much as you want.”

Scarlet sighed.  “Well, I guess it’ll be a good test to see how much blood I can store and if that energy degrades over time.”

“Good point,” Maria nodded.  “So, how are we going to get there quickly?”

“Eh,” Rachel chuckled.  “I don’t know if you’ll like it, but I think I’ll have to carry you.”

“¿Qué coño…”  Maria muttered.

“Well,” Rachel sat back with a deep breath.  “I think Scarlet could keep up with me if she keeps shadow teleporting—can you?”  Scarlet nodded with a smile. “Right, which leaves you.”

“Hey,” Maria huffed.  “I’m a Unicorn—like a horse, right?  I’m supposed to be fast … how can I move fast…”  Her eyes lit up. “I can move really fast too … I can even teleport!  Eh, really far, but it takes time and a lot of energy … it’s better for me to run.”

“Did the knowledge just flood into your brain?”  Rachel asked, brow furrowed.

“Yeah, it’s like I’ve known it all my life, but just forgot it somehow … it felt so strange.”

Scarlet nodded.  “Me too! It just comes to me when I have a question about something—sometimes it just activates on its own if I want to do something, like teleporting.”

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Maria hummed with interest as she leaned up against the closet door.  “That’s how healing is; I know exactly what’s wrong with people too—all their illnesses.  I can even select certain ones to heal or let be.”

Rachel sucked on her lower lip for a moment.  “For me, my physical strength is like a dial; I can turn it up or down on desire.  It all depends on what I want. Like when Maria was hitting me, I didn’t feel anything, but earlier I let a needle pierce my skin.  It’s like I can dial up or down my defense and offense. Maria … how’s your burst speed vs. endurance?”

She looked down at the floor with a slight frown.  “My burst speed isn’t super great, but I can run for a long time; it takes a bit of time for me to speed up.”

“Thought so,” Rachel sighed.  “I might be the slow one, actually.  My burst speed is amazing; like, instantaneous acceleration that causes whirlwinds, but I can’t keep that movement up for a long time.”

Maria smirked.  “If you need, I’ll carry you.”

Rachel grimaced.  “Well—let’s see how I do.  I think it’s different under moonlight.  I feel a lot stronger under moonlight; let’s hope I can keep up while under it.  Just to let you guys know; this could cause problems with the military—they want to handle it.”

“My little brother’s life is on the line,” Maria crossed her arms darkly.  “If I can do something about it, I will. Okay, we’re wasting time,” Maria huffed.

“I’m starting to tingle all over,” Scarlet said, white fangs gleaming in Rachel’s night vision.  “I can taste it—fear, anxiety, despair.” She licked her lips.

Rachel smiled, her heart picking up.  “I feel it too—I think Lunar Hares live for danger—there’s something about this situation that makes my muscles burn to move.”

Maria chuckled.  “Right, monsters…”

“I prefer, reaper.”  Scarlet grinned. “We’re creatures of the night, after all.”

“Someone’s getting into it,” Rachel stretched out.  “Julia’s influence?”

“Hey,” Maria stretched out with Rachel.  “Whatever it is, we’re losing moonlight. Let’s get going to this sanitation place.  Then, Marcus, le vamos a partir la madre! You beat the crap out of him, I’ll heal him, rinse, repeat!  Scarlet can go wild too. These are sex-traffickers, murderers, and arms dealers … no mercy. You hear?”

Rachel felt a coldness touch her mind at her words and Scarlet giggled, “The best kind of prey; the kind you feel nothing for.”

Artist Plug:

I commissioned Likesac for the image of Maria and my other characters.  He offers a really competitive price!

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